Friday, February 18, 2011

Churches and Mosques: Can We All Just Get Along?

Lauren Green of Fox News has reported that two Christian Churches have opened their doors to Muslims. Well, aren’t all churches supposed to be open to all people? Yes, but this is a different kind of “open doors.” According to the report, Heartsong Church in Cordova, TN and Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA have decided to allow Muslims to use their building for worship purposes. Before you go blowing your stack, or flipping your lid, take a deep breath and think about this first. That is what I tried to do. My first response was predictable. I thought such a practice is absurd. My second thought was regarding the “kind” of churches that would engage in this behavior. I decided to think about the principle(s) in back of this behavior. Doing so required me to try and understand what kind of thinking would lead someone to engage in such a practice. I tried to place myself in the shoes of the people in these churches before summarily dismissing the idea. Is it a good thing to lay out an olive branch to an opposing religion? Will it forge relationships that can later be leveraged to share the gospel? What kind of message does it send the world? Most important, of course, is the question of Christian ethics. Is it ever right to extend such an arm of friendship and fellowship to outspoken enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ? And then there is the question of consistency. Would we be just as alarmed if these churches were allowing Jewish worship to take place? Before we go spouting off at the mouth, perhaps we better give this practice some serious thought in light of what Scripture teaches. Is it really a big deal? After all, it is only a tent made of wood, brick, and mortar? There are literally dozens of questions to be asked, the answers to which are momentous.

Yes, to answer my last question, I believe it really is a big deal. But I am not sure that it is a big deal for some of the reasons that others do. Alex MacFarland is quoted in the article saying,

“We as the church are called to show love, we're called to help. But to let a building simultaneously be used for the activities of a mosque and also the activities of Jesus Christ, it's just incompatible. And I think it's one more example of political correctness and hyper-tolerance gone awry.”

But could someone argue that it isn’t really incompatible? Sure and I bet you the folks involved do exactly that. So what is wrong with this practice? Is it kind? Yes it is kind. Aren’t Christians supposed to be kind? Yes we are. Is this a demonstration of Christian charity? Well, now that is a million dollar question. Those who endorse it answer in the affirmative. I think it is not and I will come back to my reasoning later. What I want to do here is help the reader understand why this is wrong so that they can put forth the best argument against the practice without being embarrassed by its proponents. But beware, because consistency will demand consequences later on.

First I asked the question “is this kind?” And I answered that it is kind. And it is at least by the world’s standards of kindness. This is a nice gesture by a Christian church to open its doors to another religion. However, is it kind in terms of being biblically kind? Secondly, would it be unkind not to allow it? If it is true that Muslims and any other religion that opposes the gospel of Christ (and all other religions do) are enemies of the faith, then how can aiding a group whose actions will lead untold millions to hell be kind? Therefore, biblically speaking, this action tends toward being unkind more than kind because it supports actions of deception that are designed to lead people away from the one true God. The Muslim message is a lie. It is fundamentally false. It is a reflection of autonomous, unregenerate men, deceived in their sin, projecting a god of their own liking. The Muslim message will damn billions of people to hell. It is evil to assist in such an endeavor. And helping Muslims worship a false god is not kind. Moreover, it is not unkind not to allow such a practice. Muslims and any other group must take responsibility for their own worship facilities and it is not the duty of the church to open its doors to people whose core mission is the destruction of truth through the propagation of evil teachings that are in every way opposed to our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

Is this a demonstration of Christian charity? Not in the slightest! Christian love can never be divorced from Christian truth. Christian truth can never be sacrificed by genuine displays of Christian love. If Christian truth is compromised, then it wasn’t genuine Christian love at work. It was human love tainted by unregenerate thinking and emotions. Christian love demands the passionate and radical defense of Christian truth. And just in case you were wondering; there is only Christian truth. There is no other truth outside of Christian truth.

This idea is not a bad idea because sharing a physical building ipso facto is a contradiction. It is not a bad idea because the people are Muslims. It is not a bad idea because of 9/11. On the other hand, it is not a good idea because it is kind. It is not a good idea because it is charitable. It is neither kind nor charitable from a biblical perspective. It is a bad idea because the message of Islam strikes at the heart of the gospel and seeks to dethrone the very God of the universe. It is a bad idea because the Church, perceptively any ways, is actually helping a religion that is an open, sworn enemy of Christ, to prosper and grow. This is not unlike taking your children to a professed pedophile for baby-sitting services or holding an AA meeting down at the local tavern. This would be like the United States sharing quarters with the Russian Army during the cold war and allowing them to use our training facilities because it is too cold to train in Russia in the winter. This would be like a local church allowing a local university to use their facilities to train the next generation of God-hating atheists.

Finally, this is not a good idea because it will help the church forge relationships with Muslims so that they may leverage those relationships later on to share the gospel. That kind of thinking places man in the driver’s seat when it comes to salvation. It is a man-made strategy and demonstrates extremely weak, if any faith at all. Salvation is of the Lord. God can convert an entire mosque over night if He has decreed to do so. All our relationship building efforts in the world won’t matter if in the process we find ourselves aiding and abetting the enemies of the gospel so that they can continue to deceive the masses with a false and hell-damning message. We feed and cloth Muslims and all other humans when they are in need and we do so unapologetically in the name of Christ. But we do not help them become more successful in deceiving others. That idea is the antithesis of Christian truth because it undermines the very foundation upon which we are built.

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